Midday Wednesdays, you'll find Shine Public Relations employees doing downward dog or tree pose instead of pounding out press releases. Members of the seven-person staff, based in Tauranga and Rotorua, also perform yoga Tuesdays before a pre-work soak at the Polynesian Spa. "How amazing is that?" asks director Jacky James.
She tells 48 Hours her firm funds the Wednesday yoga classes. "It has had an enormously positive impact on wellbeing, stress levels, morale and productivity, and we very much look forward to it each week, often moving meetings around to ensure that we can get there."
Jacky says maintaining a healthy work/life balance is critical. "It's just a no-brainer for me. PR as an industry is notorious for burnout and having suffered from that myself, I am extremely conscious to ensure it doesn't happen at Shine."
The company also sponsors staff entry fees for events and is assembling a relay team for the national swim series.
It accommodates flexible working hours and working from home to support re-entry to work for new parents. "I even took my own advice...and took some time off to spend more time with our children during a particularly stressful time on the home front."
At Trevelyan's Pack and Cool in Te Puke, nearly two dozen employees get to sweat with All Blacks' fitness guru Nic Gill. The All Blacks' strength and conditioning coach is conducting an 80-day programme to help staff reach fitness goals. Trevelyan's human resource manager Jodi Johnstone says a new gym and two-kilometre walking track have also been set up so employees can exercise during breaks.
"One girl from the load-out area, she's motivated to do something about her weight and her whole team has come in around her, so the forkies say, 'Off you go, get out there.'"
Jodi says the company is also providing free porridge each morning and the cafeteria menu is getting a makeover, including a pie-free trial day this week.
"They're horrible things," she laughs. "The goal is to bring in healthier options." Jodi says one employee has already lost about eight kilograms. "It was just that little push they needed. Just to know your employer actually ... [cares].
We work pretty hard here; we work long hours and have big, challenging jobs. From an employer's perspective you get a lot more out of people if they're exercising and also cutting out sugar." She says Trevelyan's workforce swells from about 150 permanent staff up to 1600 seasonal staff between March and June. "This is the time to play and explore and see what works."
What works for Vodafone, according to a spokesperson, has been an increase in the amount of fully paid maternity leave and flexible work schedules. The company last year started giving new mums an extra four weeks fully paid maternity leave, for a total of 16 weeks. It also offers primary caregivers returning to work the ability to work a 30 hour week for 40 hours' pay for six months.
Spokesperson Bailey Cunningham says there's more to workforce wellbeing than a flu shot or gym membership, and Vodafone has been a mobile workforce for 10 years. "Flexible working is the norm for the majority of our people, with the exception of staff that are rostered on shifts, such as front line staff in our retail stores or call centres."
We will always support our people to work in a flexible way as we know this delivers great outcomes.
Vodafone equips employees to work remotely with smart phones and SIM-enabled laptops. "We will always support our people to work in a flexible way as we know this delivers great outcomes," says Bailey. The global telecommunications company employs 17 people in Tauranga and Mount Maunganui.
At Zespri, employees are offered fresh kiwifruit to encourage healthy eating. Spokeswoman Rachel Lynch says staff are also afforded flexibility where possible.
"While the nature of our business sometimes requires our people to be in a specific location, Zespri embraces flexible working arrangements, which can include working from home." The company has 210 staff in its Mount Maunganui office and employs 450 people globally.
Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic is another employer offering staff health and wellness options. Human Resources advisor Aleisha Newlands says employees can apply for flexible working arrangements.
"Employees and managers usually mutually agree on a case by case basis if the employee needs to work from home or have flexible hours." Parental leave is the same as statutory requirements (18 weeks paid), with the addition of a payment equivalent to six weeks' pay upon return from leave. Childcare is available (for a fee) on-site, and the aquatic and fitness centres in Tauranga and Rotorua offer free lunchtime classes and swims to staff, along with reduced full membership rates.
Office 9 to 5 no longer the norm at work
The Global Workplace Analytics website has analysed 4000 studies, reports and articles about agile work.
Two-thirds of people want to work from home, and 36 per cent would choose it over a pay raise. Ninety-five per cent of companies report telework helps employee retention - 46 per cent say allowing staff to work remotely has reduced attrition. Other benefits were increased productivity, reduced unplanned absences and cost savings. Downsides were lack of social contact, fears about career advancement, co-worker jealousy and the need for IT changes. Chris Till, chief executive at the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRINZ), says ultimately, businesses must run on trust.
"People hate to be micromanaged." Younger employees especially will leave companies that follow an outdated nine-to-five office model. "One of the major reasons companies might have a desire to create an environment of well-being is to attract and retain them [employees]. With social media, nobody's going to believe in the window dressing. If they don't like it, they'll just move on."
The HRINZ chief executive prefers life-work balance to work-life balance.
"The world of work is massively changing. We're moving to a knowledge-based economy, globalised labour markets, a work anywhere, anytime culture." He also says the pattern of damage, or harm to employees has changed from 30 years ago. Musculoskeletal issues used to be the main cause of sickness, but today its mental ill health.
"When I was a kid they used to say hard work never killed anybody. It can kill you, it can cause cancer, it can cause long-term psychological damage. "Employers need to get with the programme. Otherwise, they're not going to attract people or keep them. And they're legally liable if they're found to be damaging [employees'] health."